Integration in Latin America - Trends and Challenges
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Regional trade agreements have had a significant presence in the design of international and productive policies in Latin American and Caribbean countries since the early 1950s. Fifty years later, the region has not reached the degree of economic inter-relation found, for instance, in Western Europe, but the concern with promoting regional integration has been a tradition in an impressive amount of speeches and declarations by policy makers in the last decades. The weakening of multilateral negotiations and the multiplicity of bilateral agreements with countries in other regions might affect regional trade both via trade diversion and through investment decisions, considering a larger time horizon. International capital movement might affect exchange rates and output growth, hence influencing trade. At the same time the need for new, broader negotiating agenda, from simply dealing with trade issues to taking into consideration topics not directly related to trade but rather to competition, labour standards, environmental issues and others increase the difficulties in designing integration strategies. Even more so if the group of countries that aim at integrating their economies present markedly different characteristics. This article – an extension of a presentation made at the German Development Institute Conference on Regional Economic Integration Beyond Europe held in Bonn in December, 2007 - discusses these and other aspects related to regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.